Real Madrid did their homework by beating Las Palmas to leapfrog Barcelona, but they did not claim top spot in La Liga.
That belongs to Girona after they came from behind to beat Villarreal and will face Los Blancos on Saturday at home as the league leaders.
Real Madrid made changes against Garcia Pimienta's islanders, dropping Jude Bellingham to the bench and starting with Brahim Diaz in his place.
Carlo Ancelotti also canned Lucas Vazquez and Fran Garcia after Atletico Madrid humbled them in the derby at the weekend.
Joselu and Brahim missed good chances before the latter opened the scoring in first half stoppage time.
Vazquez, on for the injured David Alaba, crossed and former Man City midfielder Diaz controlled and then slotted home with a deflection.
Joselu headed home early in the second half and Madrid cruised after that, but could not add to their lead.
They are second, a point above Barcelona and one behind new leaders Girona.
Ancelotti said Rodrygo, who set up Joselu's goal but did not score himself, was a bit anxious.
"For forwards, they go through those moments, when you don't score you get a bit anxious, that's what's happening to Rodrygo," said the Italian.
"We have to give him condience, he did not score but did lay on a fantastic assist, bringing enough to the game. With the quality he has, goals will come."